Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 525-535

First online:

Adipose levels of dioxins and risk of breast cancer

  • Peggy ReynoldsAffiliated withCalifornia Department of Health Services, Environmental Health Investigations Branch Email author 
  • , Susan E. HurleyAffiliated withPublic Health Institute
  • , Myrto PetreasAffiliated withCalifornia Department of Toxic Substances Control, Hazardous Materials Laboratory
  • , Debbie E. GoldbergAffiliated withPublic Health Institute
  • , Daniel SmithAffiliated withCalifornia Department of Health Services, Environmental Health Investigations Branch
  • , Debra GillissAffiliated withCalifornia Department of Health Services, Environmental Health Investigations Branch
  • , M. Ellen. MahoneyAffiliated withStanford University School of Medicine
  • , Stefanie S. JeffreyAffiliated withStanford University School of Medicine

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Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the breast cancer risk associated with body burden levels of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs).

Methods: We conducted a hospital-based case-control study among 79 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 52 controls diagnosed with benign breast conditions. We collected breast adipose tissue and analyzed it for all 17 2,3,7,8-substitituted PCDD/PCDFs. We used unconditional logistic regression to calculate age- and race-adjusted exposure-specific odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each individual PCDD/PCDF congener as well as for the summary measures (I-TEQ, Adj-TEQ).

Results: Dioxin levels were consistent with reports from other small, contemporary studies of body burdens in the U.S. None of the odds ratios for any of the congeners or summary measures differed significantly from one. Especially for the PCDF congeners, point estimates tended to be below one. One notable exception was octachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (OCDD), for which the odds ratio for the second and third tertiles appeared modestly elevated (OR = 1.22, 95% CI: 0.47:3.16 and OR = 1.62, 95% CI: 0.64:4.12, respectively), though the test for trend was not significant (p = 0.36).

Conclusion: Breast cancer risk was not associated with adipose levels of PCDD/PCDFs. More study is suggested among women of color who may have higher body burden levels of these compounds.


breast neoplasms adipose tissue body burden dioxins case-control studies